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SFARI Explorer Award

Simons Foundation

Grant amount: Up to US $80,000

Deadline: The deadline for this grant has passed

Applicant type: Faculty

Funding uses: Research

Location of project: Anywhere in the world

Location of residency: Anywhere in the world

Degree requirements: Applicants must have a completed PhD


NOTE: Applications are considered on a rolling basis. The Explorer Award program is ending soon (the last receipt of applications will be June 15, 2018).

SFARI mission

The mission of the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) is to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by funding innovative research of the highest quality and relevance.

To this end, we solicit applications for SFARI Awards from individuals who will conduct bold, imaginative, rigorous and relevant research.

Objective of the SFARI Explorer Awards

This award program is designed to enhance our existing support of autism research by providing timely resources to enable high-risk/high-impact, exploratory experiments relevant to our mission. A deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying autism spectrum disorders or potential therapeutic approaches will require investigation at multiple levels, including but not limited to studies focused on gene discovery, molecular mechanisms, circuits, anatomy, and cognition and behavior. We will consider proposals at all of these levels.

The maximum budget is $80,000, including indirect costs for one (1) year, non-renewable.

Explorer Awards are intended to provide resources to support exploratory experiments that will strengthen hypotheses and lead to the formulation of competitive applications for subsequent larger-scale funding by SFARI or other organizations. Innovative, high-risk/high-impact proposals are prioritized. We especially encourage applications from investigators who are new to the field of autism, but who have expertise that could be brought to bear on this complex disorder.

Receiving support for an exploratory grant does not guarantee future support from the Simons Foundation.

We strongly advise applicants to familiarize themselves with the research projects that SFARI currently supports and to think about how their proposals might complement existing grants. Considering SFARI’s significant efforts targeted at understanding the genetics of ASD, we encourage applications that propose research to link genetic or other ASD risk factors to molecular, cellular, circuit or behavioral mechanisms of ASD. See also the SFARI blog post “SFARI’s 2018 funding priorities” where we discuss criteria for successful proposals.

Applicants are encouraged to use existing resources developed by SFARI. A number of mouse models of high-risk autism genes and copy number variants (CNVs) are available to the research community at minimal cost via a collaboration between SFARI and The Jackson Laboratory. Analogous to our mouse model efforts, SFARI is also generating and distributing genetic rat models through a collaboration with the Medical College of Wisconsin. Access to the Simons Simplex Collection (SSC),  Simons Variation in Individuals Project (Simons VIP) , and  and SPARK cohort — resources for phenotypic data, genetic data, biospecimens and recontacting participants — will be given to all approved scientists through SFARI Base. We encourage applicants to use these resources. Further information about data requests and the acquisition of biospecimens is available online. We expect Simons Investigators to share renewable reagents and data developed with SFARI funds with other qualified investigators.

Applications are considered on a rolling basis, with a response time as early as 30 days.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • All applicants and key collaborators must hold a Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent degree and have a faculty position or the equivalent at a college, university, medical school or other research facility.
  • Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign nonprofit organizations; public and private institutions, such as colleges, universities, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local government; and eligible agencies of the federal government.
  • There are no citizenship or country requirements.


  • We especially encourage applications from investigators who are new to the field of autism, but who have expertise that could be brought to bear on this complex disorder.


  • Postdoctoral associates may not apply as PIs.
  • Funds may not be used for stipend or benefit supplementation unless specifically authorized under the terms of the program from which funds are derived.